Indigenous Peoples of Malaysia have been denied their rights to assemble and free speech by the police.

The march organised by Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia) to the palace this morning (September 13, 2008) was called off following 'advice' from the police.

Suaram’s S Arutchelvan (suaram.net) and Orang Asli activist Colin Nicholas had an argument with the police team led by ASP Sydney Clyde Jeremiah of the Dang Wangi police district.

The organisers claimed they had permission from the police for today’s event two weeks ago and were unhappy that they were prevented from carrying it out this morning.

However, ASP Sydney advised them to disperse failing which the police would have no choice but to arrest those taking part in the march.

The organisers then decided to call it off and held a press instead to make public their demands and recommendations contained in a memorandum, meant to be submitted to the palace.

Colin told the press conference that the march was never granted a permit but they received verbal “permission and approval” from the Dang Wangi police.

Their written application was originally rejected but when they appealed for permission, it was given verbally on the understanding that there would be no political sentiments involved in the event.

When asked if the police gave any reason to stop the march, Colin replied: “No, but he (ASP Sydney) said the march has to be stopped because of latest political development in the country.”

Yesterday (September 12, 2008), blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng and Seputeh MP Teresa Kok were detained under the draconian law Internal Security Act which allows detention without trial.

The march this morning was organised to submit a memorandum to the king seeking recognition of the rights of indigenous groups as espoused in the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

(Text originally written by Rahmah Ghazali for Malaysiakini)

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